He combined strength with gentleness. It explains the influence he had on young people. He could guide them, but make them free and give them the joy of their own life. Edward Bond, playwright, 2014
John Doona was the founder and artistic director of North West Drama and created the annual Children’s Shakespeare Festivals. The festivals are large-scale inter-school events which aim to inspire an excitement in Shakespeare’s plays and the use of educational Drama as a tool for deep and active learning. The Royal Exchange Theatre hosted the inaugural festival and continued to work closely with John as the project grew exponentially. We are delighted to continue working in partnership with North West Drama to produce three festivals each year in our main house.
John was a writer, teacher, director, arts entrepreneur and practitioner of drama who worked for a sense of meaningfulness and social purpose in each setting. His skill, warmth and sense of humour meant that his reputation always preceded him. John's work was built around the understanding that people are actively waiting to be changed, to be 'transformed', and to find meaning in their own experiences. He knew that their world can be transformed in an instant, their eyes and minds opened with a carefully selected question or profound provocation. He couldn't imagine a world in which children and young people would not be challenged and invited to take hold of and own the world in which they live.
John sadly passed away in September 2014, following a long illness. North West Drama drew from this a renewed sense of purpose; a willingly accepted responsibility to preserve and develop his legacy. The Royal Exchange Theatre has marked John’s passing and the incredible legacy that he leaves with a floor plaque that sits proudly outside Door 2 of the Module. The unveiling ceremony in December 2014 drew family, friends, schools, and colleagues from across region to pay tribute to a unique individual.
We shall miss him greatly.